Charity hopes to expand its work

Nicholas Ridley with a portrait of his late father Sir Harold Ridley who pioneered cataract eye surgery in 1949
Nicholas Ridley with a portrait of his late father Sir Harold Ridley who pioneered cataract eye surgery in 1949
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A CHARITY founded by the inventor of modern cataract surgery is looking to expand into developing countries.

The Ridley Eye Foundation was set up by Sir Harold Ridley in 1967 to support research into degenerative eye diseases.

Sir Harold died in 2001 but his son Nicholas and daughter-in-law Lauretta, of Park Road, Swinstead, are both trustees of the charity and are now looking to expand its work.

The charity currently supports the Ras Morbat Eye Clinic in Aden, Yemen.

The clinic is run by the Anglican diocese of Aden and the Gulf and offers care both to the Yemeni community, which is among the most impoverished in the world, and to an increasing number of Somali refugees.

Their experiences in Aden convinced the Ridleys and their fellow trustees to try and support more services in Africa, the Middle East and the Far East.

They are now trying to spread the name of the charity, Sir Harold and his work.

Mr Ridley said: “We are seeking to raise awareness. Hopefully people will be happy to support us so we can help those who can’t help themselves.

“There are people out there who live on less than a dollar a day.”

Sir Harold pioneered cataract surgery while working as an ophthalmic surgeon for St Thomas Hospital in Leicester during the Second World War.

While working with RAF casualties he noticed that splinters of plastic from aircraft cockpit canopies which became lodged in the eyes of wounded pilots were not rejected by the body.

This led him to propose using artificial lenses in the eye to correct cataracts.

On November 29, 1949, Sir Harold implanted the first intra-ocular lens into a patient’s eye, a technique which is still in use today. The Ridley Eye Foundation sponsors the Ridley Eye Foundation Lecture Medal which is awarded every two years by St Thomas’ Eye Hospital to a leading ophthalmologist.

Trustees are now finalising a brochure highlighting both the charity’s and Sir Harold’s work. A fundraiser has been appointed and a specific donation website will soon be online.

If you would like to support the charity contact Paula Thrower on 07972 137085 or e-mail paula.ref@aol.co.uk.